The 2019 Tennessee Volunteer football season is officially here. The Vols are in game week preparations for Georgia State this week, and are trying to get a sense of who will play, and how much, in the opener. Since my last recruiting board, Tennessee has secured the commitment of several of their top targets, and even added a quality transfer/walk-on. Also, several other players have narrowed their top schools or made their announcement dates known. With all that in mind, here’s an updated look at who the Vols are pursuing, and where they stand with each target:
Commits Since Last Update:
- 3* (OG) James Robinson
- 4* (OLB/DE) BJ Ojulari
- 3* (S) Mordecai McDaniel
- Transfer/Walk-on (QB) Kasim Hill
- 5* (WR/TE) Arik Gilbert – Since the last update, the Vols added Gilbert’s teammate BJ Ojulari. Now, with both Ojulari and Vol commit Harrison Bailey in Gilbert’s ear everyday at Marietta High School, there’s an even better chance at landing the talented top-10 prospect. Georgia and Alabama remain heavily in the picture, but you have to like the situation Tennessee has created around him in this recruiting process.
- 5* (WR) Rakim Jarrett – Even though he is currently committed to LSU, Jarrett has been linked to the Vols for a while now. Right before his commitment, it even seemed that the Vols may have been in front. Virtually every school in the country wants the speedy receiver, with the main competition being Maryland and Ohio State. However, the Vols may have gained new traction recently with the commitment of teammate Mordecai McDaniel, and adding Kasim Hill who attended the same high school. This recruitment could be one of the few every year that goes down to the wire.
- 4* (DE) Jay Hardy – At 285 lbs, Hardy is more of your prototypical SEC defensive end. And when you look at his top schools, it’s SEC heavy. Hardy recently released his top-5 of Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech. With him being an in-state kid, you have to like the Vols chances. Recently, it seems as though the Vols have been trending in the right direction. However, this recruitment could go on for a while.
- 4* (DE) Tyler Baron – Baron is one of the top defensive ends in this class, and the Vols should know firsthand. At Knoxville Catholic, Baron has been dominating offenses for the last couple of years. Baron also recently released his top-5 schools with Tennessee, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Kentucky included. The Vols seem to be in a great spot to land Baron at the moment. However, this recruitment will likely go to the end, as Baron has preferred to go through the process more slowly and thoughtfully.
- 5* (TE) Darnell Washington – At 6’7″ 260lbs, Washington is a huge (literally) prospect in this class. However, it was reported a few weeks ago that he had a Top 3 of Georgia, Miami, and Tennessee. Alabama was surprisingly left out, but I wouldn’t count them out just yet. This seems to be another case of a Georgia vs Tennessee battle that could play out for a while, but honestly, it could change several more times before he decides. He likes the Vols though, and Brian Niedermeyer has been recruiting him hard.
- 5* (LB) Sav’ell Smalls – The Vols have really turned up the heat lately for one of the top players on the west coast. The Seattle native recently released his top-6 of Tennessee, Oregon, Florida State, Washington, Alabama, and Washington State. Smalls is very high on Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols, but probably isn’t close to making a decision. Look for him to be a guy that could be waiting to see what type of season the Vols have this year before deciding. If the Vols improve this year, Smalls could be an intriguing possibility to leave the west coast for Knoxville, i.e. Henry To’o To’o.
- 5* (OLB) Noah Sewell – Much of the same can be said for Sewell as it was for Smalls. We made his top-8, and could become a major player if we improve this year. Most of the competition here will come from Alabama, Florida, Oregon, and Ohio State.
- 4* (OL/DL) Omari Thomas – Thomas is one of the Vols top targets mainly for his ability to play both lines. The top-6 for the Memphis native includes Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Alabama. Watch for Tennessee here, but Arkansas and Ole Miss will be tough to beat. Thomas could announce his decision at the Army All-American bowl in January.
- 5* (DE) Reggie Grimes – The state’s top ranked player could play either DE or OLB in Tennessee’s system. The Alabama legacy announced that he would be committing in late November and it could go several different ways. His top-6 includes Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida State, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Alabama will obviously be tough to beat, but South Carolina could be a sleeper here as well. Either way this one won’t be easy for the Vols.
- 4* (ILB) Len’Neth Whitehead – The Vols have become a major player for the linebacker out of Georgia here recently. His top-7 includes Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin. He’s supposed to take an official to Knoxville this weekend and that could really secure our position with him, if not secure a commitment from the talented linebacker. Georgia and Texas are the main competition here, but the Vols seem to be in a really good spot.
- 4* (OL) Chris Morris – The Memphis native has apparently already decided where he will play and could announce at any time really. Tennessee and Texas A&M are thought to be the two top choices here. Morris has already taken an OV to Knoxville but also plans to visit Texas A&M, Oregon, Ohio State, and Alabama. Wherever he goes, expect Morris to be one of the top players in that class.
As you can see, the Vols are still heavily involved with numerous top players in the 2020 class. I’ll provide another update to this board probably around halfway through the season. Hopefully by then, the Vols will be playing well and we’ll have secured commitments from a few more guys on this list!
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